As teachers, we’ve all been there. You make it to the end of the lesson, feeling frazzled – and feeling like you have worked considerably harder during the past hour than the pupils have.

This is all wrong. It’s also unsustainable. Work like that 5 lessons a day for too long and there’s absolutely no way you can keep up that sort of energy levels. You will be heading straight for burn out territory.

The trick is to make sure the pupils work harder than you…

The 70/30 Principle: Getting the balance right

The Pareto Principle – the idea that 80% of effects come from just 20% of causes – is one that has been adapted for many different scenarios and situations over the years. A version of it – the 70/30 Principle – has been a staple message in the world of sales for decades. The idea being that in a sales conversation, the prospect (potential customer) should do 70% of the talking, with the salesperson doing only 30%. This means, of course, that the salesperson is doing most of the listening, not the talking.

Now imagine you are in a classroom. Who’s doing the talking? Who’s got the energy? Who’s sharing ideas? Who’s being active? Who seems excited?

Often, it is the teacher.

The fact is that the person who is talking, energetic, sharing ideas, being active and excited will be learning the most.

So, it’s no good if that person is the teacher. It needs to be the pupils!

Try these three ways to redress the balance and get the pupils working harder than you!

70% talking: 30% listening

So, it is the pupils (the learners) and not the teacher that get all the attention. Pupils need to be actively learning, but this is a virtual impossibility if the teacher is doing all the talking. The teacher’s focus should shift from talking to listening. It is the listening that will allow the teacher to accurately assess what the students have learned.

70% on the how: 30% on the what

Too often with teachers the focus during the planning stage is on what content will be covered in a lesson or sequence of lessons, rather than how it will be approached and how it will be taught. However, it is the how that is far more important than the what. Focus on how you will teach and how the students will learn and the learning becomes embedded into the lesson.

70% practising: 30% being taught

People learn by doing and practice, of course, makes perfect. The best way to embed learning is to allow pupils to practice.

Of course, trying to divide every single lesson up into this sort of 70/30 split isn’t practical or realistic. However, the broad principle of shifting the balance of the way you do things in the classroom will mean the pupils work harder than you – and learn at a better rate too.

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